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Pickles announces new homes fund

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Communities secretary Eric Pickles has announced a £3m fund to help councils tackle barriers to getting new homes built, in a move he hopes will accelerate the delivery of 25,000 homes.

The fund is designed to give authorities “additional capacity” to finalise section 106 agreements and sign off planning conditions, which could accelerate starts on up to 85 sites.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s conference in Manchester, Mr Pickles also announced that the government would publish a prospectus for a new £150m investment fund for 10,000 “serviced plots”.

Under the custom-build scheme, individuals will be able to hire a developer to build the home they want.

The fund is available to developers and community groups, working individually or as part of a joint venture with custom builders or a local authority. The money will provide a repayable loan for infrastructure works to provide these “shovel ready” plots for sale.

Further investment of £53m will accelerate construction of more than 7,000 homes on large developments in Manchester, Medway, Swindon and Kettering, bringing the number of homes supported through the Local Infrastructure Fund to more than 80,000 since the scheme began in 2012.

The government has set aside £1bn over the next five years for further rounds of the programme.

Another £49m will support the delivery of more than 540 homes for private rent across two schemes in Hampshire and one in Croydon under the Build to Rent programme. The initiative has supported more than 1,600 homes to date.

“The investment we’re announcing today will…[drive] up the supply of new homes in every corner of the housing market,” Mr Pickles said.

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